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Social anxiety and what you need to know

You want to meet people, make friends, and share yourself with the world, but social interactions can be especially intimidating for people who struggle with social anxiety. While many people feel nervous before a presentation or speaking event, social anxiety interferes with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress on a regular basis. You may constantly doubt your social adequacy and worry about what might happen if you receive a negative evaluation. Although therapy can be very useful for people who suffer from a social anxiety disorder, there are a number of techniques you can try to combat your anxiety without professional intervention.

Understand symptoms of social anxiety. There are some common symptoms or experiences of social anxiety. Common markers of anxiety disorders include excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations that generally others would not find overly stressful.

  • Extreme worry about social situations for days, weeks, or even months beforehand.
  • Intense fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you do not know.
  • Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts or otherwise negatively impacts your life.
  • Fear of humiliation.
  • Fear that others will notice that you are nervous and react negatively.

Understand physical symptoms. While experiencing anxiety affects the way you feel emotionally, your body creates triggers to clue you in on how you’re feeling. People with social anxiety may experience:

  • Blushing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, or “butterflies”
  • Shaky hands or voice
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sweating

ay attention to situations you tend to avoid.

  • Do you always sit by yourself at lunch, rather than asking to sit with others?
  • Do you always turn down invitations to parties?
  • Do you avoid family get-togethers?
  • Do you avoid using public restrooms?
  • Some other common triggers include
    • Meeting new people
    • Being the centre of attention
    • Being watched while doing something
    • Making small talk
    • Being called on in class
    • Making phone calls

Face your fears. Many people who suffer from social anxiety tend to avoid their fears rather than facing up to them. Although this can help to alleviate social anxiety in the short term, it can actually make the anxiety worse in the long run. Facing your fears is always difficult and requires a lot of bravery and determination, but if you want to cure your anxiety it is something you must do.

 

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